London-based hospitality tech startup Ambl officially launched last Thursday with £1 million in new pre-seed funds for its venue-matching platform that enables customers to make reservations at nearby restaurants and bars, up to 30 minutes before time-of-arrival.
Prior to last week's launch, the startup's been busy preparing the ground for its "spontaneous" last-minute reservations portal. It's now raised a total of £2.3 million in funds (with three earlier rounds raising £1.3 million) to make headway towards its ambition of becoming "the Uber" of drinking and dining out.
As of now, Ambl has already signed up over 100 venues from London's evening dining scene, in fashionable spots like the Michelin starred Marcus Belgravia, and two late night spots for cocktails, The Alchemist and the London Cocktail Club.
These venues are participating on a test basis for now, bringing the platform into London's Square Mile and some of the city's more trendy fine dining and drinking districts.
Ambl hopes to iron out its product during this initial phase, ahead of a wider roll out to the rest of the capital and nationally across the UK. With 1,300 UK venues already on its waiting list, Ambl also has ambitions to expand internationally using its existing core business model.
This latest £1 million pre-seed is being provided by a slate of hospitality industry angels, including Paul McKenna, Jon Spiteri and Mark Gordon.
Proceeds will go to supporting the product's initial market launch, driving marketing activity and the creation of new benefits that reward venues who use its booking portal.
Aaron Solomon, CEO and co-founder of Ambl, says the booking app will "connect spontaneous moments of dining and drinking out with brilliant venues who have real-time availability."
Sometimes, the venue will be jam-packed, and last-minute customers might be too much for the kitchen staff to handle.
Ambl allows venues to turn off near-immediate bookings with a single click. Customers can quickly see seats that are available that very second, helping venues combat last-minute cancellations, "detrimental no-shows" and "unexpected lulls" in customer traffic.
Hospitality is absolutely critical to the success of London's entertainment economy, one of Europe's largest. The sector's resilience has been proven through numerous lockdowns and COVID-related drop-offs in customer activity.
A recent industry report cited by Ambl indicates £130 billion in economic value is derived from the UK's national hospitality scene. Some 35% of these businesses could go under early next year, due to soaring energy bills, rental rates and staff shortages. People cancelling reservations last minute is thought to cost the industry some £17.6 billion/year.
Aaron Solomon, CEO and co-founder of Ambl, said: "We see Ambl as being a helping hand for venues, and one that they can use as and when they want to help iron out booking uncertainty.
"As we move into a crucial and busy Christmas season, where high-value group bookings are more commonplace, we hope Ambl can be the necessary gift that to alleviate some of the venues’ costly pain points surrounding bookings, and also provide customers with a tool to find somewhere to eat or drink at a moment’s notice.”